Peter shifts from his instructions to wives to speak to husbands in this week’s passage, and he gives some very specific directions. Take a look at what he says in 1 Peter 3:7.
Peter has been addressing the attitude of submission, specifically in three areas: submission to the governing authorities, submission of slave to their masters, and submission of wives to their husbands within the realm of marriage. I find it interesting that in two cases, these directions are one sided. Peter does not give any direction to the governing authorities, nor does he speak to the masters of the slave. But he does address the husbands in the third section.
In all three cases, Peter addresses the ones who were likely to experience oppression from those in authority over them. It was, and is, quite common for governments to persecute their people, for masters to abuse their slaves, and for husbands to treat their wives poorly. But out of the three, Peter gives some specific instructions only to the last one, the husband.
Peter’s instruction begins with an imperative here. Most English translations soften it simply because it is difficult to put in English smoothly, but it should be translated more along the lines of “live with your wives according to your knowledge of what God requires.” Husbands are to live with their lives, informed of how God requires them to live, informed with knowledge of God’s will. Why? Because the wife is the weaker vessel, the weaker partner.
Some had tried to show that in Peter’s time, women were viewed as weaker in all areas: physically, intellectually and morally. This is unlikely to be Peter’s intent here though, because of his statement that Christian wives can bring the husbands to the Lord through the example of their faith. Peter’s suggestion is limited to the physical realm only. He does not suggest that women are weaker morally or spiritually, because to do so would suggest that men are actually better Christians than women. That is not taught anywhere in Scriptures, nor is it evident in the history of Peter’s time. No, Peter is simply referring to simply the physical; most women tend to be weaker than men, and as a result, are more vulnerable to abuse.
It’s hard to make such a statement in today’s culture, where terms like “equality” are key words. But the simple fact is that men and women are different, and to claim that they are not is ludicrous. Peter sees the difference, and calls husbands to keep it in mind. Our role is to watch out for the needs and concerns of our wives.
Next, Peter states another fact that should be obvious. Just because women are the weaker partner physically, does not diminish the fact that they are coheirs in Christ. While the husband and wife are both equals in the sight of God, in light of his salvation and grace, each one does hold different and complementary roles in the home. As husbands, husbands who recognize that God has created us as coheirs, men must not misuse their headship in the home, but show honor, respect and love to their wives.
Peter’s final phrase is chilling. If husbands do not treat their wives properly, it causes a hindrance to their prayers. What Peter is stating is that our relationship with God may be hindered because of our relationships with one another. This is not a unique statement for Scripture to make. There are several other passages that point to this truth, such as Matthew 5:23-24, 6:12-14, or Mark 11:25.
While it is only one verse, in comparison to the longer passage he addresses to wives, Peter’s instructions to husbands should stop us in our tracks and remind us of just how important this relationship is, and how deeply God cares for it. As Paul states in Ephesians 5, the marriage relationship is built upon the relationship with Christ, and finds fulfillment there.
We would do well to remember that.
Question: Husbands, how often do you remind yourself of your role as described by Peter here? How do you seek to show this level of respect to your wife? You can leave a comment by clicking here.